Board of Trade and Lifeboats


Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Agreed on that, Cook!

Mark, we promised you a warm welcome when you popped up again on the list - here 'tis. Good to see you here.

~ Ing
 
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Jemma Hyder

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ah all those wonderful memories of er..... MacDonalds and Englishman Irishman Scotsman jokes lol. I think you scarred Eric for life lol!
happy.gif
 

Ben Holme

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Feb 11, 2001
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Great to see you here, Mark!

Now tell me, is that over-zealous Geordie lass still following you around, or have you paid her mother to make her leave you alone?
wink.gif
 

Mark Ling

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Apr 12, 2005
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Gosh, I feel like I've just come out at Alcoholics Anonymous - everyone giving me such a warm welcome ! Only joking guys, and many thanks for the messages. Must dash, I'm being stalked by a Geordie.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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My Geordie mate's wife says the Vikings used to raid Geordieland and carry off the women because the Geordie women were better looking than their own.

My Geordie mate says they left all the ugly ones behind!
 

Henry Loscher

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Another aspect of the Lifeboat issue.

Eva Hart, bless her soul, was strongly convinced that if only the Titanic had carried enough lifeboats, no one would have died. Of course, she was incorrect in this assertion.

It seems that most of the contributions to this subject have concentrated on the number of lifeboats carried, the BOT rules applying and the time needed to launch the carried lifeboats.

There is another aspect to this debate. That is lifeboats require crew to launch them and crews to man them. According the the BOT enquiry, it was stated that there would need to be upwards of 8 crew required to man the lifeboats. That is my recollection. Therefore there needed to be about 160 able bodied seaman to man them. It was stated that the conditions existing at the time the Titanic sank were unusual to say the least and probably fewer crew would be required. I think that the Titanic had fewer than 100 able bodied seaman aboard who could be competent to command and man the lifeboats. It is well documented that there were not enough able bodied seaman to man the lifeboats as it was. So where would the trained crew to man the additional lifeboats come from assuming that there were more lifeboats carried? It is obvious that Captain Smith did not seem to recognize the urgency of launching the lifeboats as it was over an hour after the collision before the first lifeboat was launched even though he knew that time was of the essence. So even if the Titanic had more lifeboats, it is unlikely that very many would have been launched and those that would have been launched would undoubtedly been undermanned.
 
Oct 31, 2007
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There was a thread about this topic back in 2002 and 2003 but I'm wondering if there is any more specific information out there.

We are all woefully aware of the ratio of passengers to lifeboat seats on the Titanic and at least generally why that was (Board of Trade regulations or the day). Does anyone have any information about this ratio on other passenger liners of that day?

That old thread makes reference to various photos of other liners showing more or less the same number of lifeboats as the Titanic had. But any numbers?

Thanks...

[Moderator's note: The 2002-03 thread mentioned here now appears as the earlier messages in this consolidated thread. MAB]
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>Does anyone have any information about this ratio on other passenger liners of that day?<<

Broadly the same and sometimes less. This is really something you need to check out by looking at period photographs of a given ship then count the number of passengers and crew the ship carried.

Keep in mind that the operating assumption behind the ship being it's own lifeboat was that if a vessel got into trouble, the lifeboats would be used to ferry passengers from the distressed vessel to the rescue vessel. It seemed to work well enough with the Republic but one can also point to a few period disasters where the ship sank so quickly that the boats they had were essentially useless.

One notorious example of that is the Empress of Ireland which sank in only 15 minutes.
 

Dave Gittins

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The percentage of passengers and crew for which lifeboats were provided varied wildly. (I here disregard freighters, which always had more than ample boats.)

In a table prepared for the British inquiry, and published, with minor corrections, in my e-book, we see that the worst in the list is Cunard's Carmania with boats for 29.4%. The best is White Star's Runic, with boats for 107.4%. Runic carried only 630 people.

Problems arose as soon a large numbers of emigrants were carried. Take Cunard's Franconia. She was only 18,150 GRT, but she could carry up to 3,115 people. She had boats for 30.9%.

Titanic was much the same as the Cunard ships, but she was one of the worst of the White Star ships, many of which were better provided with boats in proportion to their capacity. This is largely because Titanic had a very large crew compared with other White Star ships.
 
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Alyson Jones

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Ships by nationality had different number of life boats.
British ships over a set limit ton had to carry 16 life boats by law which she carried 20 life boats and she was not braking the law,but i heard that If Titanic was classed as an American ship Titanic would of had too carry alot more life boats to match American ship laws.

Dave, Ages ago i heard that Titanic's lifeboats were only on board for other emergentcies like picking up survivors of other ships accidents?
People high up in 1912 that are in charge of Titanic really did not think Titanic needed any life boats of her own at all.Is this true?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>Dave, Ages ago i heard that Titanic's lifeboats were only on board for other emergentcies like picking up survivors of other ships accidents?<<

The presumption was that a ship could act as her own lifeboat long enough for help to arrive, after which the boats would be used to ferry passengers and crew from the distressed vessel to the rescue vessel.

While there were some who honestly believed that the Titanic was unsinkable...and hence no need for lifeboats...the view wasn't as widely held as you might think and certainly, the designers had no such illusions.
 

Dave Gittins

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Alyson, there were certainly people who thought that what really mattered was making ships that could float for hours after a typical accident, such as a collision.

Most fans have never heard of Sir Alfred Chalmers, who advised the Board of Trade to that effect. He's a very important man in the story.

There was a regulation called Rule 12 that rewarded the owners of particularly safe ship by allowing them to reduce the number of boats to rather less than the rules required. Titanic did not meet the standards to apply rule 12, so she had all the boats required by the rules, plus a few more. Some smaller steamers, such as ferries, did meet Rule 12.

In the months before the sinking, an inquiry recommended a new scale of boats that was very little better than the old. This idea was dropped like a hot brick after the sinking, along with Rule 12.

The next step was to cram ships with dozens of boats, whether they could be lowered or not. That's another story.
 
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Alyson Jones

Guest
Hi Dave,rule 12 i never heard of it before,if you say so i believe!

I was talking about something else here as well,that at that time 1912 that American ships carried alot more life boats than British ships cause the two countries had different life boat rules and laws.
I think it may be called British board of trade and American board of trade.
I mention this cause that's what this thread is about.
Micheal has answerd apart of my question already!

Regards
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Early steamers did not carry lifeboats, as such, their boats being used to ferry passengers or crew between ships, or from ship to shore. If I remember correctly the pioneer Atlantic liner PS Great Western carried only two boats, while the large troopship Birkenhead had about four boats.

When, in 1852, the latter vessel struck a hidden reef off Point Danger, some fifty miles out from Simons Bay, South Africa, the women and children were put into the three boats and rowed to safety, over 600 soldiers being left on board. They were told that if (or when) the ship foundered, they would be allowed to swim for the boats - although in those days few soldiers could swim. Only a few survived.
 
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Alyson Jones

Guest
Hi Stanley,The Great Wesrtern ship i heard about that,British ship built in 1850 ahead of her time?

I never knew about that kind of information,but i do now,thanks.

Stanley how about in 1912 did British ships carry less life boats than there American cousin ships?is that true?
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Hello Alyson,

The Great Western, a wooden paddle steamer which also carried a four-masted schooner rig, was built by a subsidiary company of the Great Western Railway - the idea being that she would, in effect, extend the company’s route beyond its original terminus at Bristol to New York. She was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and launched at Bristol in 1837, her first trip to New York being accomplished in 15 days and 5 hours in April 1838. Many people consider that this famous vessel was “the first Atlantic liner”￾.

Regarding the matter of lifeboats and other safety features, I have always assumed (perhaps unfairly) that the UK Board of Trade imposed far more rules and regulations on private companies than would have been the case in the United States. Both countries were committed to laissez faire capitalism, but state regulation was more interventionist in the UK. For example, boiler explosions were practically unknown on British ships or on British railways, but they seem to have been relatively common in 19th century America, which were not (at that time) subjected to state regulation.

By 1912, the Board of Trade had laid down the minimum number of lifeboats which would be carried by British ships in relation to their size, but I am not aware that the US regulating authorities had introduced any such regulations. It is well known that the huge size of ships such as RMS Titanic had outstripped the Board of Trade’s regime, but ship owners such as J.Bruce Ismay knew full well that the BoT (in effect the British government) was about to introduce new regulations, and the Olympic class were designed to carry the additional boats that would soon be required by law.
 
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Alyson Jones

Guest
Hey stanley,I have seen a program a couple of years ago and it stated that at the time of Titanic's sinking American broad of trade laws meant that American ships carried alot more life boats than British ships and stated that if Titanic was an American ship, she would of had to carry alot more life boats at the time 1912.
I am trying to find out if this is true or not.
These days programs can be dead wrong lol
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Alyson, Quite frankly I do not know what (if any) regulations applied to American ships in 1912, but my gut feeling is that they would not have been as robust as those applied to British ships by the Board of Trade, because American capitalists resent state interference even more than their British counterparts.

In any case, what American ships were active on the North Atlantic in 1912? American attempts to enter the North Atlantic trade had, hitherto, ended in failure (an honorable failure in the case of the Collins line). That is, after all, why J.P.Morgan was so keen to buy into the White Star line and other British shipping companies.
 

Bob Godfrey

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The laissez-faire approach in the US didn't extend to safety at sea. The American equivalent of the British Board of Trade was the Dept of Commerce and Labor, which operated a 'Bureau of Marine Inspection' and a 'Bureau of Navigation' (later merged). The BMI served to formulate and enforce a comprehensive body of regulations to ensure that all steamships were designed, built and operated to safe standards. This included specifications for boats and other life-saving equipment. I don't know what the requirements were in detail, but certainly they didn't specify 'boats for all' at that time.
 

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